Non-school attendance

About Penalty Notices

A guide to non-school attendance penalty notices

Parents are legally responsible for ensuring that their children regularly attend the school at which they are registered. Parents can help to ensure regular attendance by:

  • encouraging their children to attend school regularly and on time
  • taking in interest in their children’s education and life at school
  • communicating with their children’s school in order to discuss any emerging issues or problems notifying their children’s school on the first day of any absence
  • not arranging any family holidays during term time

Some children, unfortunately, fail to attend school regularly. We have legal powers to address this. Included among these powers is the authority, under Section 23 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, to issue Penalty Notices (or fixed fines) to parents whose children fail to attend school regularly.

When a penalty notice may be issued

In Central Bedfordshire, schools are responsible for deciding when a Penalty Notice shall be issued. A Penalty Notice may be issued when:

  • a pupil is taken out of school during term time for a holiday which has not been authorised by the school
  • a child’s school attendance has been poor and his/her school believe that the issuing of a Penalty Notice may lead to an improvement in the child’s attendance (for example, when a child is persistently late for school and his/her parents fail to address the situation)

When a Penalty Notice is issued it is issued on a per child/per parent basis. This means that if a mother and father have two children and take both children out of school they may be issued with a total of 4 Penalty Notices – one to each parent for each child.

Issuing a penalty notice

When a school requests the local authority to issue a Penalty Notice, the following criterion will apply: when the number of unauthorised absences amounts to at least 10 sessions (5 days) during the previous 12 school weeks.

Once a Penalty Notice has been issued, there is no statutory right of appeal, although there are circumstances in which the council may withdraw the Notice.